Rejoice!

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[14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C, July 3, 2016 / Isa 66:10-14c Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16+20 / Gal 6:14-18 / Luke 10:1-12, 17-20]

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CHOICES in life are very important. What we choose can make us happy but sometimes the array of choices in front of us can be overwhelming. Just buying shampoo, there are so many brands. In Philippines a common one is called “Rejoice.” This is the same word that the prophet Isaiah uses to announce to the people: “Rejoice Jerusalem and be glad because of her” (Isaiah 66:10-14).

What is the content of real joy? Most of us have experienced that our joy can pass away easily. Is there a type of joy that can last, an all-weather joy where you feel happy come rain or shine? What choices should we make to be truly happy?

Once I saw the publicity for a retreat. There was a signpost with many directions on it, one saying “Career” this way, another saying “Money” this way. Behind the signpost was a long winding road with the words written on the road “The Way.” The message was “Many ways but only one WAY.” Jesus said, “I am the way.” It is good to check which way we are going in our lives.

Here in the Philippines, a popular greeting of the people, especially those who don’t know you, is: “Where are you going?” Now this is slightly disconcerting as you think the person is being nosy but, in fact, they do not want to actually know where you are going; it is more of a friendly interest in your life. But the question is helpful for all of us. Just where am I going?

Once we had a recollection and a young couple came because they had been working so hard and needed to find some direction in their lives. They had been so busy that they were not enjoying life so much. At the end of a day of reflection, talks, prayer and sharing, the woman said, “This day has been one of the best days in my life” and she really looked so happy. As missionaries we hear this many times from people coming on retreats and recollections. A source of true and lasting joy is the encounter with Christ. As Mother Teresa said, “If you want to be full of joy you must be full of Christ.” What does it mean to be full of Christ? Do you think that one hour a week at Sunday mass is enough to be full of Christ? How can we be more “full of Christ” during the week?

The gospel gives us some answers. Jesus is sending out his disciples and each one of us needs to be sent, too. Sent out of ourselves, sent out of our comfort zones, sent out of mediocrity. Is Jesus powerful enough in your life to send you out of routine? Where does Jesus want to send us? To the harvest. What is the sign that I am really following the Way?
When my life is becoming more and more concerned with the harvest, more focused on the needs of others. When I am just looking at myself, my needs, just looking at my belly button going round and round myself it makes me unhappy.

The real joy comes when I am trying to live for others. Of course, my needs are important but I keep my eyes fixed on the harvest. Jesus said, “The harvest is large but the workers are few.” How are you working for the harvest?

Jesus sends us out like lambs among wolves. How much I would like it to be the other way around, to be a wolf among the lambs! But Jesus will not have this because only a lamb needs the Good Shepherd. At times we feel the task is too great, the harvest too vast and challenging but it reminds us we are not the Messiah! Working in the harvest is a source of great and lasting joy. It does not mean there are not moments of difficulty and struggle but what is does mean is that our lives have a bigger horizon when we are dedicated to work for others.

The disciples return rejoicing after seeing the victory of good and the defeat of evil but Jesus tells them to be joyful not because of these things but because their names are written in heaven. This is our task brothers and sisters!—to write the names of many people in heaven. It is not just to get to heaven, but also to bring many people with us.

There is no work or task more rewarding than this. Earthly occupations pale into insignificance compared to this wonderful task entrusted to us as Christians. Let us continue this day joyful, happy that the Lord is calling us to work in the harvest. The harvest is big but the workers are few. Rejoice! Let us respond fully to Christ, telling him, “Here I am Lord. Teach me how to work in the harvest. May I experience this joy that comes from working for you.”

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